Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What Question Were You Answering???

What the hell woman?  I just asked you where you wanted to go for dinner...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 22

The Time Mookie Got Laid Off From His Job

The list of all my previous employers and occupations is quite a hodgepodge of information. Unfortunately my resume contains the name "Worldcom" in my list of past employers.

Remember WorldCom? The telecommunications empire that at one time was the 2nd biggest telecommunications company in the world, only to be felled by the nation’s largest accounting fraud scandal and subsequent bankruptcy filing at that time? Yeah that one. I was lucky enough to be working for the telephone communications company MCI when WorldCom showed up and bought it out. WorldCom was a big success story at the time because they started as this little company in some shit-hole town in Mississippi, and then got bigger by acquiring other companies. MCI was their biggest prize. A good analogy here is that MCI was the shiny double-wide trailer in their dilapidated Mississippi trailer park.

Things seemed OK for awhile but then the market started tanking. It was all downhill from there. Our stock that had been sky-high at one point - plummeted like a rock in the water. It was impressive how hard it fell. Our fearless CEO Bernie Ebbers (who at one time was a gym teacher I believe), did everything he could to keep the company riding high. This included "cooking" the books, lying to investors and Wall Street, and screwing over every single rank and file employee. When word came down that our company figure-heads were liars, and all of our earnings and profits were grossly overstated - the company fell apart. 

The layoffs started coming in waves, and they were the worst kept secret in the company. Everyone knew they were coming, and wondered if they would be the next to go. It seemed like every other Friday the word went around that a certain group got axed. Sometimes you saw someone across the room packing up their stuff and walking out. Sometimes you heard about security having to escort someone out. The result of all this was stressful to everyone, and did not do much to create a cheery work environment. Morale was at such a negative level, it was unreal. My wife and I both worked at WorldCom at the time, so we were always exchanging stories about what we saw or heard. People often wondered who was worse off: The people who got laid-off, or the people still employed? 

Friday December 6th, 2002: I was walking into work with my wife when we noticed the gate arms on the exits of the parking ramp and lots were “up.” This was always a sure sign people were being let go that day because you need your security cards to get in and out of the parking areas. When people were let go, the company obviously confiscated any/all security cards that person had to get in and out of the buildings/lots. Additionally, the rumors had been going on for weeks about pending layoffs that particular day. As we were walking by the parking ramp, a lady I knew through various work projects came driving out through the open gate – in tears. “I got let go. They are letting tons of people go.” And she drove away still bawling. "Megan(*)" and I looked at each other and went: “Shit.”

Megan said to call her if I heard anything, and we went to our separate departments. I began my ride on the elevator to the 4th floor and was afraid of what I would see when those doors opened. The elevator opened and my fears proved to be true. There were at least a dozen people milling around their cubicles and packing up their stuff. SOB-GD-MF.

I slid up the aisle to my cube and peeked further up the aisle to see if my manager was there. She wasn't. I sat down and logged into my PC. As I was able to get into the building, into my department, and into my computer, I thought that was a good sign and that I might be "OK."

As I was looking across the room, I saw my manager "Sue"* walking back to her desk following "Bill,"* one of my "team members." Both of them were wearing somber looks, and I was like "aw shit." I buried my nose into my computer and tried to begin my usual morning routine: Email, CNN, and ESPN over my morning bagel. It was like I was hiding, and hoped I could avoid the bad news around me. I heard some noises from a few cubicles down from me, so I stood up and saw that Bill was packing up his things. He looked up at me and gave a cheeks-full exhale. I didn't know what to say. "Sorry man." was the best I could do. He nodded his head, and I nodded mine. I sat down and heard him discretely slip out of the office a few minutes later. I never saw him again.

About five minutes later as I was staring at my computer screen - contemplating the utter shame of all that was going on around me, fate finally came knocking on my door.

I heard a "knock knock" on the frame of my cube, and turned around to see my manager Sue standing there with a very sad face, but trying to force a smile. "Can I talk to you for a few minutes?"


I took a deep breath, and got up to follow her to a conference room cllleeeeaarrr across our floor. As we walked, I could feel people looking at me - much like I had done to others that had taken this walk before me. It was a long walk. Part of me was bummed. Part of me was scared about what the hell I was going to do. That part of me then dealt with that fear by knowing I could go home and get drunk that afternoon. 

We got to the conference room, and she explained to me that I was being "let go." While doing so, she handed me my "severance packet" that contained the details about my severance package, pending vacation, sick time, unemployment, and health benefits. She apologized several times, and told me it was not because of anything I did. She didn't come right out and say it, but I knew that I was one of the bottom 3 or 4 in the department with the least tenure. It made good business sense to keep the others that had been there 10+ years. I remember staring at the table as she talked. I was listening to her, but in an out-of-body sort of way. I remember looking at the lines in the grain of the wood the table was made of, and thinking to myself: "Wow. Its over."

I held no ill will towards my manager, because like me, she was a victim of the whole system of shit our company had produced. She was doing what she was told, and doing the job of a manager. I felt bad for her, and told her so. She had already let 3 go ahead of me that morning. I'm not sure how many after I left that day, but I know she let another 5 or so go in the months ahead based on gossip and info I heard along the way. She asked me if I had any questions, to which I didn't. My mind was spinning so I couldn't have formed a rational question if I wanted to. I just knew I had two-months severance, a wife, and a 3-month old son. That was all I knew for sure at that point.

Sue told me I could take my time, and do what I needed to do before I left. She said I could email people I needed to, and make any phone calls necessary. This was nice because it had been standard procedure in recent layoffs for security to basically escort you out right then and there, and you came back a week later to get your stuff that the company boxed up for you. Sue also had told me that since my spouse worked for the company, her manager was made aware of my pending departure. Usual protocol allowed the spouse to take the rest of the day off if need be.

Then she took my work pager, and my security ID badge. That was it.

We walked back to the department, and again I found people staring at me. Their looks ranged from curious, to sadness, to sympathy, and perhaps to guilt. I sat down at my desk, took a breath and called my wife. She answered in a whispered tone: "Hey what's up?"

"I'm done." I said. She said "OK" as though she expected it. We discussed it briefly, and I told her that her boss might be talking to her and letting her leave for the day. When we were done, I turned to my computer and sent out a nice email to people I worked with. I thanked them for the knowledge they had bestowed upon me, and how it was a pleasure to work with them. Blah blah blah. I sent a few other emails to friends briefly explaining my situation, and then I deleted my entire email file and program on the computer. Done.

I began boxing up my personal belongings, and throwing away tons of work-related stuff that no one would ever need. Then I picked up my box of things, looked around the room and made my way towards the elevator. As if my "walk-of-shame" wasn't bad enough, it was further delayed by the fact it took forever for the elevator to show up. I stood there like a tool holding my box of pictures and belongings while seemingly everyone watched me.

The elevator finally opened, and there was one other person on there. I walked in and set my shit on the floor (it was heavy), and pushed the button for the lobby. The guy was going to the 1st floor, and I recognized him as one of the "conference calling" douche bags from the 9th or 10th floor. I looked at him once the elevator started moving, and he smiles at me and says "Are you moving?"

"You could say that." I replied back.

His smile faded, and he goes "Did you get laid off?"

"Yeah." I said.

His face went pale, and he immediately looked down. I could see the wheels in his head spinning, and knew he was thinking to himself that he just come off like a total dumb ass. His eyes were like "oh shit oh shit oh shit." He quietly and hurriedly exited on the 1st floor, and I had to laugh. It was all I could do though.

Finally the elevator reached the lobby, and I exited the building for what would be my last time as an employee. It was very surreal. 30 minutes earlier, I had a job - now I didn't. I had never NOT had a job in my life since I started working at Hardee's when I was 16 or 17. My wife met me at the parkade, and she did a wonderful job of being the supportive spouse. She always does though. I was trying to be strong, but behind my dark sunglasses I had tears. A big part of my life was now gone, and I had no idea what to do.

In the days and weeks that followed, I went through a roller coaster of emotions. A big part of my "identity" was gone. Who was I? What am I going to do? To complicate things, I had just become a father in the recent months prior. I was still trying to "adjust" for that, and then had this big wrench thrown into the motor. I was kind of screwed up.

Fortunately I was able to spend the next three months playing "stay-at-home-Dad" for our then three-month old son. I look back at it now and think fondly of that time we got to share. Unfortunately at the time, it was hard to appreciate given what I was mentally going through. But we made due. Good news came to me about two months after I was let go, where I was interviewed and hired by my current employer. While the pay wasn't as good, it was a good job and it has been more than rewarding.

The life lesson I took away from WorldCom is that while a job is very important in your life, it shouldn't be the most important thing. Your job shouldn't be who you "are." Sometimes it is hard to see that, and you have to step back and look at yourself once in awhile. If you don't, you could be setting yourself up for a trap. My advice is:  Don't let that happen.

Plus, you might end up on the elevator on your way out of the building with some douche that asks if you are "moving." Ain't nobody got time for that.

* - Name changed to protect the guilty/innocent.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fun With Legos

My kids love LEGOS (who doesn't?), and they always want me to sit down with them and build stuff.  What I come up with is usually on par with the picture below.  The best part is, either way they still love it.  Then they ask if I'm done so they can play with it.

Happy 5th Birthday To My Youngest Son!

My youngest boy turns 5 years old today.  He is pretty excited about being 5, and started talking about it less than a day after turning four. He's quite a kid, and I'm proud to be his Dad (At least my wife tells me I'm the father).

Keep climbing boy, and never stop till you get to the top.  Then climb some more.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A "Must Have" For The Child's Book Collection

I should get this at my house.  You never know when stuff is going to go down.

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 21

The Time Mookie Just About Smacked A Guy At The Airport

I'm sorry sir, but it appears you have all of your necessary
paperwork in order.  That means I'm going to have to
pat you down and generally harass you.  It's the law.
I had to travel to Baltimore for work last week, and I was slightly looking forward to getting out of the office for a change of pace.  The obvious downside to this was that I had to go to the airport - and deal with PEOPLE.   I don’t know why, but people in airports can be real a-holes.  I'm not talking about the security/TSA/airline a-holes.  Those people are paid to be a-holes.  I'm talking about regular passenger people a-holes.  Unfortunately this trip to Baltimore further served my belief in my "a-holes in airports - theory."  The really sad part was that I was in the airport itself all of 3 minutes before it happened.

I needed to check my bag, so the very first thing I did when I got inside the airport was to head to the United Airlines counter and got in line for the self-help kiosk.  I was patiently waiting in line behind a group of ladies who were all together and seemingly having fun.  One of the ladies goes: “Oh, we are all together and just finished. You can go ahead.”  I said “thanks,” and reached to get my suitcase.  In the 1.1 seconds it took me to do that, out of NO WHERE blows “Mr. Self-Important” and he totally cuts RIGHT in front of me.  He steps AROUND me (and the others in line behind me) and proceeds to start using the kiosk.  I’m sure the look on my face was priceless.  I went, “Um.  Excuse me.”  I quickly look at the lady who told me she and her friends were done, and she looks at me with the same disgustedly puzzled look.  “Mr. Self-Important” turns around, looks at me with a look that tells me “yeah, I know what I did,” and continues his business.

Out loud, I go “Really?!  You are actually doing this??”

He heard me, but ignored my comment and continued his boarding pass/baggage check activities. The lady standing next to me goes “Wow.”  Man, I SO wanted to grab this preppy-ass dickwad by the collar, and remove him from his unearned place in line.  But to my credit (and sometimes discredit), I am not the guy to make a scene or kick ass.  I'm more of the "George Costanza guy" who thinks of what I SHOULD HAVE done 15-20 minutes afterwards.  "Oh yeah, well the Jerk Store called.  They're running out of you!"

I think I was just more shocked than anything at the sheer level of asshole I was staring at.  While I was still trying to mentally process what had just happened, I noticed I could see the kiosk screen and read what the guy's name is!  What was it?  You are damn right I'm going to tell you...His name was:

 “John Stillwell.” 

I have no idea who "John Stillwell" is, or what he does.  Frankly, I don't care.  I just want you to know that John Stillwell f'd with the wrong guy on a Monday morning, and he was a complete dick.  John.  Stillwell.

Then do you know what happened?  Thirty seconds went by, and Karma decided to step into the situation.  The lady working the United desk goes, “There is an open kiosk over there in the “Premier” area.  You can use that one, there is no one in line there.”  “Thank you” I tell her, and I rolled on over to the Premier kiosk.

I quickly conducted my business, and began to notice that Karma has went the extra mile in this instance too.  How so?  It seems the kiosk that John Stillwell thought he was overly entitled to - is not working correctly.  The printer that is supposed to provide him with his precious boarding pass is not working.  WELL.  John Stillwell of course is irritated by this.  Me?  I smiiiille as I walk by with my boarding pass and tagged bag, and make my way over to security.

As I was waiting in line for security, I began to wonder if I would be lucky enough to be seated next to Mr. Stillwell on the flight.  Thankfully I was spared the experience, and did not have to endure his presence.  As I got on the plane, I did notice that he - of course - was in Row 1 of the plane.  Karma was still going strong though, because he was seated next to a large gentleman that I'm sure probably encroached on his personal space.  I felt bad for the guy.  The big guy...not John Stillwell.

John Stillwell can suck it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 20

The Time Mookie Got To Take The Corporate Jet

What I "do" for a living is pretty mundane in the whole scheme of the world.  I get up, I go to work, I do what I do with little or no major difficulty for the most part, and then I go home.  From what I understand, approximately 70% of the rest of the working people in the United States have about the same experience (FYI:  I made up that statistic). 

Based on this little intro, I’m sure you can easily understand that when an opportunity to travel for work came up one day, I was pretty excited at the prospect.  I was asked to travel to our offices in Louisville, Kentucky and assist with some “business task reviews” we had going on there.  After checking with the wife about any upcoming need-to-be-home family obligations, I told management I could go for 3 days.  An hour later, I received the flight/hotel itinerary for my already-booked trip.  A few weeks later I jetted off to Louisville for a few days.  The work was mind exhausting, but not terrible thanks to the group of co-workers I traveled with.  They were all “fun” people, and we managed to have “fun” on the company dime, so it all worked out.  However, the project turned out to be a larger scope than originally intended, and management wanted me to make additional and frequent trips to Louisville over the next few months.  Sadly the commitment was more than I could contribute to, and had to largely back out of the project after that.  It was disappointing.

A few months later, one of the managers in my area asked me if I could again travel to Louisville, but to work on a related, but smaller aspect of the project I went down there for before.  I checked with the spouse, and was good to go for another short 3 day trip.  What made this whole thing extra sweet was that since the entire “Louisville” project was a high priority deal for the company, they were allowing some leeway when it came to travel spending allowances (i.e. drinks).  They also made various “perks” available to our group that are normally not bestowed to lower-class employee.  We were all ecstatic when we found out that the biggest “perk” was available for this trip.  To make a long story short, they let us take the corporate jet.
The. Corporate. Jet.

“Giddy” does not even come close to the excitement the people in my group were feeling about this opportunity.  Our company allegedly has two jets:  a 7 seat jet, and an 8 seat jet.  We got the 7-seater.  They told us to arrive at this hangar that resides on airport property, but next to the main airport terminal.  One nice thing here was that we didn't have to park in the outer reaches of the long-term parking.  The private jet place has its own private parking lot.  Booyah. Everyone showed up at 5:45 AM for our 6AM flight, and met in the "executive lounge" in the hangar.  The lounge was on ground level as you walked into building, and had windows that looked out onto the airport tarmac.  Outside the building sat our jet, as well as a few others that presumably belong to other big-shot companies in the area.  A person came around and took all of our bags that we weren't going to carry on the plane, and went out and put them in the holding area in the nose of the plane.  Then – this is the best part - the two pilots showed up, looked at the passenger log, made sure we were accounted for, and one of them said “Alright!  Let’s go!”  They led us out onto the tarmac and into the jet.

If you have travelled commercially, you can understand how AWESOME this situation would be.  No bag scanning. No bitchy desk attendants asking if you have had control of your bags the entire time.  No intrusive TSA body scans/pat-downs.  I could have had drugs, razor blades, and a shotgun. No problem!  Had they known someone was carrying those things, I’m sure they would have been highly discouraged.  But they didn’t even check.  That’s what I’m talking about! 

Down the runway we flew and an hour later (AN HOUR!) we landed in Louisville.  We pulled into a similar “corporate executive” hangar there, and deboarded.  The rest of the trip went much like the 1st one, and fun was had by all.  On the way back home on the corporate jet, we raided the mini-fridge and drank all the beer and assorted mini-liquor bottles.  It is safe to say we were living large.  We landed at home, and certainly appreciated what would probably be our once-in-a-lifetime chance of riding the corporate jet.


A few weeks later, the manager that asked me to work on this smaller part of the project asked me if I needed to go back to Louisville to get a better handle on anything I was doing.  I said I thought I was OK, plus I didn't want to be gone for a few days.  She smiles and says, "well I know the jet is going down in a few weeks - for the day."

FOR THE DAY?  Yeah, I can manage that.

So I got registered with the corporate jet people and was good to go.  So, again I showed up like last time just before 6AM.  I was the only person from my group going, and was riding down there with a bunch of "suits," which was hilarious.

We boarded and took off for Louisville lickity split.  We landed, took the cab into downtown to the office, and I met up with my people for my additional "knowledge gathering."  The lady I was sitting with had a lunch appointment, so I was free to do whatever I wanted for a good hour.  So I walked around downtown Louisville, and just hung out.

After lunch, I went back and finished up all the work I needed to do for the day, packed up and caught a cab back to the airport about 3PM.  During all the trips to Louisville me and my co-workers made, we had a met a cab driver named "Earl."  We called him exclusively whenever we had to go somewhere in Louisville, because he was awesome.  Plus he loved us and would come take us anywhere.  I had called Earl before I left the office and set it up for him to meet us at 3.  The suits were impressed with my swagger in dealing with "Earl."  We hit the airport, met our pilots, boarded, and we were off.  I made myself at home again in the mini-bar and tried to get the suits to share in my "trip enjoyment" but I only was able to get one taker.

An hour later at 4PM, we were on the ground at home.  I knew my office was having a "meeting" where they served beer at that time, so buzzed back over to the office, and had a cold drink in my hand by 4:15.

"Where were you today?" Someone asked me.

"Oh.  Louisville."  I said.

"Have you been down there all week?"  They asked.

"Oh.  No.  Just for the day.  On the corporate jet." I said with a smile and a nice sip of my beer.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Hot Pizza She Says...

If you are thinking like I am thinking, I bet "pizza" is something other than pizza. What a whore.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Ron Is An American

God Bless the U.S.A, and God Bless Ron Swanson.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Father Of The Year

This Dad is clearly the best Dad.

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 19

The Time Mookie Used to Wear Drakkar Noir

Back in high school, I used to wear Drakkar Noir.  I shouldn't have to tell you, but that stuff was the bomb.  The ladies loved the Drakkar Noir.  I had a routine with it too.  I'd get up in the morning and get ready as usual.  Then as I was ready to leave I'd put my letter jacket on, and THEN go for the "D.N."  Put a dribble into my hand, rub my hands together and then smear that shit down both sides of my neck.

Good. To. Go with the Drakkar Fkn Noir.

It was enough that you could smell it, but not so much I didn't pollute the room and you could smell me 3 hours after I left.

The coat collar absorbed any residual amount on my skin, which was beneficial because if I ever forgot the morning application any particular day - the residual "D.N." in my coat more than made up for it. The ladies loved my coat for that reason.

Girl - "Can I wear your coat?"
Me - "No."
Girl - "But it smells good!"
Me - "You're Goddamn right. Its Drakkar Noir.
Girl - "Please?"
Me - "Bitch. No."

I had a letter jacket because I had "lettered" my junior year in Varsity football. Was I good? Oh hell no. I think the whole team got a letter because we all sucked so well together as a team. We were very proficient at sucking. Anyway, it was a black jacket with my initials on one shoulder/sleeve, my grad year on the other, and a big yellow letter "V" on my left chest, with a football pin and bar. The "V" could have just as well meant "virgin" because that would have made more sense.

Back to the D.N.
You may be asking yourself: "How do you properly say Drakkar Noir?" The answer is pretty simple. You put the accent on the 2nd syllable of that shit (Dra-CAR). We used to embellish the hell out of that pronunciation too, and add a tongue roll and a lusty voice.

Other fun facts (according to the always-knowledgeable people at Wikipedia):

* In 1991 it was the bestselling men's "prestige" ($20+) scent worldwide. $20 is some serious coin yo.
* The New York Times says the name derives from "a flat-bottomed Viking ship." I bet that boat was awesome.
* Another source says that the name relates to Dracula, and the fragrance's image "obviously appeals to the dark, macabre, sinister side of masculine sexual fantasies" Oooh yeah.

So where was I? Oh yes. High school. I quit wearing it after high school. "Why" you ask? Was I too cool? Quite the contrary. I had one bottle that lasted me FOREVER. When it ran out I never bought anymore. I don't remember if I got it for Christmas or if some girlfriend gave it to me, or what. But the time was up on that smell anyway.

Enough time has passed though, and I think we need to bring it back. Everyone needs to get back into the Drakkar Noir. Everyone! Run to your local Dollar General, gas station, or Walmart. Get your Drakkar today!

I know my wife will LOVE this idea. I already can picture her closing her eyes and shaking her head in a disapproving manner.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

You Have To Admire Her Enthusiasm

Ashley Holten likes to take care of her business!  Our friends over at the website have shared  a story about Ms. Holten, and her activities this past Sunday night.  Here is the story:

Drivers Stop To Watch This Florida Woman Masturbate Along Highway

For over half an hour last Sunday night, drivers on Highway 484 in Ocala, Florida watched Ashley Holton masturbate on the side of the road. They pulled illegal U-turns to watch and honked, only encouraging her. She was arrested once deputies arrived.
When approached by the police, Holton exposed her breasts and bra, kicked the officers and gave one a bite Holton described as "a love tap." The arrest report states that at the jail she "continued to resist the officers by spreading her legs, exposing her vagina and telling the officers to kiss her there and refusing verbal commands to cooperate."
Her arrest log notes her for battery, "exposure of sexual organs," "brawling fighting corrupt public moral decency" — a single offense in Florida apparently — and several other charges. Her arrest report states she may have been under the influence of alcohol.
May have been under the influence of alcohol?  May have?  That's good stuff.